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Rosserk Friary

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HISTORY

It is one of the most beautiful and best preserved Franciscan convents in Ireland, situated near Moyne Abbey, on the west side of Killala Bay, seven kilometers north of Ballina, the largest town in County Mayo, and close to the Knockroe village. It was founded by the Joye family around 1440 for Friars of the Franciscan Third Order Regular, whose members were both clergy and lay people. In other places women could also form part of Third Order communities, but in Western Ireland it was made up solely of men. These religious were especially dedicated to teaching. Each monastery had its own free school for boys, which aimed to preserve the cultural heritage of Gaelic Ireland. It was thanks to these centers that history, songs, sagas and stories of local heroes were perpetuated.

WHY THIS PLACE

Both the Priory and the Abbey were supposedly burned in 1590 by Sir Richard Bingham, an English soldier and naval commander who served during the reign of Elizabeth I, participating in the Tudor conquest of Ireland, for which he was appointed Governor of Connacht. (then one of the provinces of western Ireland). The church was built in the late Irish Gothic style and its ruins include a nave with a single aisle, a cloister with two chapels situated in the south transept and a square bell tower suspended over the chancel arch. The stone door that leads to the church still shows beautiful carvings.

CURIOSITIES

One of the convent's curiosities is the presence, in the southeast corner of the chancel, of two basins, with a Round Tower carved into one of its pillars, which were used to wash objects during religious services. The convent buildings are well preserved, with three vaulted rooms on each side. The bedroom, dining room and kitchen were on the upper floor, where we can still admire two fireplaces placed side by side.

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